Chris Horner Climbs the Way to Success in Stage 4 of 2011 Amgen Tour of California
In one of the most impressive team and individual performances of the Amgen Tour of California, Chris Horner (USA) of Team RadioShack out performed his competitors, and teammate Levi Leipheimer (USA), to win the first true mountaintop finish in the history of the race atop Sierra Road outside San Jose.
In one of the most impressive team and individual performances of the 2011 Amgen Tour of California so far, Chris Horner (USA) of Team RadioShack outperformed his competitors and even teammate and three-time Tour of California champion Levi Leipheimer (USA), to win the first true mountaintop finish in the history of the race atop Sierra Road outside San Jose.
Stage 4 of the Amgen Tour of California 2011 from Livermore to San Jose was short, but intense, challenging riders with a total of five King of the Mountains competitions (KOMs), two of which are legendary in California cycling lore - Mt. Hamilton and Sierra Road.
As Horner crossed the finish line, he raised his fists in the air to cheers from the throng of roaring fans who had flocked to the top of the mountain. Horner built a lead of one minute and 15 seconds over his nearest competitor Leipheimer. Tom Danielson of Team Garmin-Cervelo is one minute and 22 seconds back in third place.
"Our goal today was to blow apart the field, and we did," commented Horner, who at 39 years-old is in the best form of his 16-year pro career. "The last five weeks I was on a mission to come to the Amgen Tour of California in the best fitness of my life. I've put in the best five weeks of training, and it has been a hard five weeks, but it was worth it because it was an easy five kilometers to the top of the summit."
"Levi (Leipheimer) is the three-time champion and without a doubt I was working for him but on the Sierra climb the legs were good. If you look at the tape you'll see I always made room for Levi and he's still the protected leader going into the time trial with him as a big favorite. There will be no holding back. I've got some good form and I can handle a time trial too. Maybe we'll go 1-2," Horner told Roadcycling.com and our mobile sister site Roadcycling.mobi.
Paying tribute to cyclist Wouter Weylandt, who died tragically while racing in the Giro d'Italia just last week, Stage 4 began in the city of Livermore with a moment of silence for the fallen Belgian Team Leopard-Trek rider. The Leopard-Trek team, led by Andy Schleck (LUX), was brought to the front of the line to lead out the group for what would be an intense, grueling stage.
The attacks started immediately with Bissell Pro Cycling at the front of several attempted breaks, but nothing stuck. The first real break was established with 10 riders from eight different teams, which claimed a 40-second lead on the pack.
With five kilometers to go before the first KOM of the day on Mines Road, the 10 men worked together to establish a gap of two minutes and 40 seconds over the group. Lars Boom (NED) of Team Rabobank was the first to reach the top of the first KOM competition, and by the end, the gap between the breakaway and peloton was two minutes and 30